When people say they want a low-key wedding they usually mean a few dozen family and friends, a modest meal, sparkling wine and jolly music to dance to. But when you’re second in line to the British throne low-key means something completely different.
It means swopping a carriage for a Rolls-Royce to transport the bride to Westminster Abbey, having an informal buffet for several hundred guests instead of the traditional wedding breakfast and making sure charity workers rub shoulders with princes, presidents, soccer players and pop stars on the big day.
As for the venue – well, there’s never been anything low-key about Buckingham Palace.
The 650 guests invited to the reception will have access to 19 imposing rooms and works of old masters such as Rembrandt and Rubens will be on display in honour of the couple.
Two wedding cakes – a traditional multilayered fruitcake and a biscuit and chocolate delight – will be set up near the artworks. Sixty staff will see to everything from parking to taking guests’ coats, champagne flute top-ups and, of course, the food.
Mark Flanagan, the queen’s head chef, has admitted his 21-member staff will be stressed but believes they’re up to the task.
The menu is being kept a secret but Mark has promised “the best of British” and much of it will be sourced from the palace garden.
Canapés – a snack small enough to be consumed in two bites – are likely to include smoked salmon on a beetroot blini, a confit of duck and pear chutney and quail eggs with celery salt.
“We want people to go away saying, ‘Wow, that was amazing’,” Mark says.
Kate is adamant no details of her gown will be released until 11 am on 29 April – the moment she and her father, Michael, arrive at Westminster Abbey.
Guests have been issued a 22-page list of do’s and don’ts.
They have to:
*Avoid wearing white or cream so as not to upstage the bride.
*Be seated at least 30 minutes beforehand.
*Curtsey or bow when the queen enters and leaves the church.
*Address the queen as Your Majesty; thereafter call her Ma’am to rhyme with ham, not palm.
*Hold their champagne glasses by the stem.
Serving staff must:
*Avoid looking at the bridal couple and royal family members when attending to them.
*Keep their heads down and be as discreet as possible.